Benjamin Wiley Chidlaw (December 18, 1900 February
21, 1977) directed the development of the United States'
original jet engine and jet aircraft. He joined the United
States Army Air Service, at the time a precursor to the
United States Air Force (USAF), in 1922 and for several
years, served in training and engineering positions. By
1940, he was chief of the Experimental Engineering Branch
and involved with the development of jet engines. During
World War II, he was deputy commander of 12th Tactical
Air Command and later organised the establishment of the
22nd Tactical Air Command in the European Theater of Operations.
After the war, he remained in senior command positions
and finished his career with the USAF in 1955 as commander
in chief of the Continental Air Defense Command with the
rank of general. He died in 1977 at the age of 76.
Wiley Chidlaw was born in Cleves, Ohio, in 1900. He graduated
from Woodward High School at Cleves and from the United
States Military Academy, with appointment in June 1922
as a second lieutenant of the United States Army Air Service,
soon to become the United States Army Air Corps (USAAC),
which would later evolve into the United States Air Force
took flying training at Brooks and Kelly Fields, Texas,
and got his wings in January 1924. He remained at Kelly
five months as a flying instructor. He went to Clark Field
in the Philippines for duty with the 3rd Pursuit Squadron.
He returned to Brooks in October 1926 as flying instructor
assistant staging commander, and final check pilot.
to first lieutenant in April 1927, Chidlaw remained at
Brooks until July 1930 when he entered the USAAC Engineering
School at Wright Field, Ohio, graduating a year later.
Then began the first of several long assignments at Wright
Field which established Chidlaw as an expert on materiel,
especially aircraft. He stayed five years this time, chiefly
as project officer of the Materiel Division's Training
and Transport Aircraft Branch.
in 1934, he devoted three months to helping the USAAC
inaugurate its flying of the airmail. In succession, he
took the Air Corps Tactical School course at Maxwell Field,
Alabama, and the Command and General Staff School instruction
at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He was promoted to captain
in August 1935 and assigned to the 2nd Bomb Group at Langley
Field, Virginia, where he became Operations Officer in
May 1938. The following January, he was named technical
assistant to the assistant chief of staff for materiel
at the USAAC Headquarters at Langley. He went back to
Wright Field for a short time, and in March 1939, was
assigned to the Supply Division in the Office of the Chief
of Air Corps. Three months later, he became chief of the
Engineer Section and in October chief of the Experimental
Engineering Branch, where he monitored the jet engine
was promoted to major in March 1940, to lieutenant colonel
in September 1941, to colonel in March 1942, and to brigadier
general in November 1942, while assigned to this duty
in Washington. In March 1943, he was assigned to the Office
of the Assistant Chief of Air Staff for Materiel in Washington.
In that capacity, he represented the United States Army
Air Force (USAAF), the direct predecessor to the United
States Air Force, on several joint Royal Air Force-USAAF
technical missions in London. He went to the Mediterranean
Theater in April 1944 as deputy commanding general of
the 12th Tactical Air Command. Following the invasion
of southern France, he organized and commanded the 22nd
Tactical Air Command in that theater. In March 1945, he
took command of the Mediterranean Allied Tactical Air
Force and was promoted to major general the next month.
returned to Wright Field in July 1945 as deputy commanding
general for operations of what became Air Materiel Command.
In October 1947, he became deputy commanding general of
the command, with rank of lieutenant general, and full
commander September 1, 1949. On July 29, 1951, he received
his fourth star and the command of Air Defense Command
at Ent Air Force Base, Colorado. He also became commander
in chief of the joint service Continental Air Defense
Command there on September 1, 1954. He retired from the
USAF in that capacity on May 31, 1955, with many decorations
from his own country as well as France, Great Britain,
Poland and Brazil. He died February 21, 1977.